Getting to Know The Grotto on the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s top attractions, drawing in millions of visitors each year who are on the hunt for natural phenomena and incredible, wild views. All along this stretch of coastline, there are tiny pockets of isolated beaches, amazing sights, and a collection of wonderful landmarks to stop off and marvel at along the way.

The History of the Great Ocean Road

The Local Aboriginal People

Back before the Europeans ever step foot on Australia, the Aboriginal communities swarmed the land. The Great Ocean Road region was no exception, being rich with the distinctive local community and culture. With the local tribe of the Great Ocean Road region named the Gundidj Aboriginal Cooperative which houses Aboriginal cultural displays which explain the culture of the people native to this area.

Having lived on this land for centuries the local Aboriginal community have a deep understanding of the wildlife and can take visitors straight to where the animals are at any time of day. Take a guided interactive walk with an experienced guide for an in-depth and highly educational encounter with native animals including emus, sugar gliders, koalas, kangaroos, reptiles and birdlife, or strike off on one of the four self-guided walks for the chance to encounter these same species one on one.

Before the Road

The first European when the early European settlers in olden times, before the iconic Great Ocean Road, the coastal region was a rough terrain of bushland and jagged rocks. Hidden within this wild region were early settlement towns, located right next to the coastal seashore. Travelling to the towns took weeks if not months depending on where travellers started from. With the thick terrain or rocks and trees made it difficult for carriages or any large machines to travel smoothly. Majority of the time, ships were used instead, to skip the laborious land journey.

The Reason for the Great Ocean Road

Because of such painstaking journey through the coast, the towns had very few visitors. Because of this, Alderman Howard Hitchcock, the mayor of the nearby town Geelong, who proposed a new way into the area. The road would be good for three reasons, first, it would give an easy path in and out of the coastal area and towns. Second, it would create a better tourism industry for the region. And Thirdly, it would be a way to employ the returning soldiers from World War I.

It’s Construction

The Great Ocean Road began in 1918 and finished on 26 November 1932. It was a backbreaking operation during its 14 years of construction. The terrain was rough, with thick bushland and durable rocky clifftops. Due to the limited machinery of the time, the majority of the work was done by the workers manually digging and hacking away at the rocks. There were over 3000 men who worked on the Great Ocean Road, 2300 were returning soldiers from the War. These men honoured their fallen friends and soldiers, by coming together and building a commemorating their sacrifice.

One of the key monuments the soldiers built was the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch. It is the starting point for the scenic road and is the most photographed spot on the coast. Built with wood from the region, with informational boards nearby. The surrounds itself is picturesque, with both beach and bush views, making this spot a perfect place to learn more about the road and to stretch your legs.

 

Walking down to the Grotto

The Main Attractions along the Great Ocean Road

While the main attractions include the Twelve Apostles and the century-old shipwreck, there is an often overlooked attraction that sits at the end of the route. The Grotto is essentially a sinkhole, where the limestone cliffs fells away to meet the receding cliff line.

Walking down to the Grotto

Located 9km west of Port Campbell, this incredibly surreal sight is well worth a visit if you’re in the area. A lot of people find themselves waning when they reach the Grotto, having seen a huge collection of Australia’s natural landmarks in the lead up to it. But the Great Ocean Road might just have saved the best until last.

The Grotto is perhaps the most enchanting of all the rock formations in this part of Australia. Part-blowhole, part-archway, part-cave, it offers a peaceful place to enjoy the sea views and soak in the wonderful things nature is capable of.

Standing about halfway up the cliff from the sea level, the geological formation is reachable via a decked staircase that leads down from the viewing platform at the top. You can either view the wonder from above, or head down and explore it at eye-level.

Inside, the Grotto is filled with smooth boulders and serene rock pools that have been carved out of the limestone. For the best view, look into the Grotto from the lower viewing platform, where you can see the horizon, the pools, and the jutting rock formations in one go.

The Best Time to Visit The Grotto

Though the location is open all year round, there are some weather conditions that are better for viewing The Grotto in than others. The temperatures and weather in the area change constantly and, on some occasions, going down to explore The Grotto at eye-level can be dangerous, particularly if it’s windy and the tide is high.

For ideal conditions, head to The Grotto at sunset or sunrise, where you can catch a glimpse of the warm Australian sun through the archway of the rock formation, where it reflects gold and pink off the smooth rock pools inside. Summer is the best time to visit for prime weather conditions, but the landmark remains an incredible must-see throughout the year.

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